Christmas Messiness


One Christmas I proudly mailed out our family Christmas card, only to realize after the fact that 4-year-old Jared’s hand was placed comfortably (yet firmly) on his crotch, center stage.

Then there was the time Grandma and I were happily preparing a feast, wine in hand, when she looked out the window at our neighbor’s Christmas lights, and exclaimed “Look at the donkeys!”  To which I responded, “Perhaps they are reindeer.  But I could be wrong.  Maybe Santa uses donkeys.”  We still giggle at our inebriated discussion!

And I’ll never forget the Christmas I briskly drove our SUV to the tree lot, fuming that I was doing this chore all by my lonesome.  And in this state of angry self-justification, I subsequently plowed this same SUV into our garage, forgetting the small fact there was a tree tied to its roof.  I can still hear the violent crunching sound.

Another year Alex and I brought home a complete Christmas village, with snow, miniature people, benches, trees, and intricate buildings lit up from within.  “We have to be very careful,” we said.  “They are so fragile”.  Upon the word “fragile” we turned at the exact same time and crashed the village churches into each other, teeny windows, roofs and doorways falling on the living room rug.  They were indeed fragile.

And finally there was that Christmas night we went to the movies, a certain-family member having selected the film.  Imagine sitting next to your daughter’s boyfriend, age 25, and watching the first (close-up) scene from The Wolf of Wall Street – it is not A Wonderful Life.   That certain-family member still gets teased about this selection.

Do you have some messy Christmas memories?

Well, take heart that the very first Christmas was also messy.   A teenage mom.  Stinky barnyard animals.  Straw.   Refugee status awaiting.  An evil ruler.


So don’t let a ruined tree, an embarrassing card, drunk cooks, or an awkward movie experience get in the way of marveling at the miracle of Christmas.

God coming down.  Messy and marvelous.


Today’s Takeaway –

-Read Joy’s reflection.  My Favorite Christmas Memory (still)    Relish the messiness!

-And don’t forget to marvel!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy










My Favorite Christmas Memory (still)

macro shot photography of christmas stockings ornament on a christmas tree
Photo by Craig Adderley on

I (Joy) had always wanted to have a Christmas tree.  As many Jewish children will tell you, pleading, making the argument that the tree can be a Chanukah bush, that it isn’t truly a Christian symbol, ya de ya de ya de…  It didn’t work with my father and I’m sure it doesn’t work with many Jewish families.  Though in today’s world, times are different and maybe a small tree might fly!

Fast forward many years later at the tender age of 23, I marry a nice Catholic boy.  Finally, I would get to experience Christmas!  (Why else marry outside your faith?!!)

It was Christmas 1977 and I was so excited.  We didn’t own a car since we commuted into New York City by bus from New Jersey.   I had a driver’s license, but never drove having grown up in New York City.  My husband walked with a shopping cart to the local supermarket, a distance of a mile or more, to buy a tree and surprise me.  I remember it vividly when I came home to a tree standing tall in a stand ready to be decorated by newlyweds who were doing everything for the very first time.  I cried putting the tree up and I cried taking it down.

I have been carrying on this tradition for years, but this first Christmas will always be one I cherish in my heart and memory.  There is only one first and the ones that you remember are special, never to be duplicated again.

Christmas, just like many family holidays triggers memories for many people.  If you have lost someone, a parent, a spouse, someone dear to you it is a time for those memories to be felt acutely.  Recognize that the most mundane things we do can be made memorable.  Live in the present, not in the past, but hold the past locked in your heart for safe keeping.  These reminiscences will make you smile now and 10 years from now.  It’s your unique story that is unlike anyone’s else.

So, indulge Barclay and me, if you will, as we muse on Christmas past and present.

Charles Dickens, where are you?

Today’s Takeaway…

. Time is your friend now.  You don’t have to compete with your job, raising children, getting dinner on the table.  Savor each baked Christmas cookie and each unwrapped ornament as if it was the first time you ever experienced it.

. Make new memories and blend them with the old. After all, your retired life is just that, a patchwork quilt that you are weaving together.

Enjoy the Ride,

xox Barclay & Joy